Twins excited to reach 89th birthday together
IDENTICAL twins Katie and Pamela Tydeman remember how they had to fight for life when they were born in London in 1929.
They each weighed close to 3lbs (1361gms), far from a baby's healthy birth weight.
Katie, the eldest by 20 minutes, says her mother didn't know she was expecting twins.
"I was fed on brandy for the first week," she said, describing an old-time remedy for underweight babies who were thought to benefit from the spirit's warming properties, which would help with breathing.
The twins' parents, who already had a four-year-old son, Michael, were unprepared for their two new arrivals.
"We slept in a drawer. They had no money," Katie said.
"They'd just bought a new house."
The twins thrived and, almost nine decades later, Katie Delves now lives at Helensvale on the Gold Coast.
Her sister Pamela Edmonton made her first trip to Australia from the United Kingdom to celebrate their 89th birthday on March 20.
While they don't always agree with one another about childhood memories, they do remember that they had to stay with their grandparents in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, during World War II when London was bombed.
They also recall that their classmates at school mistakenly thought the twins might have been the English princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret.
Pamela, still a resident of Kent, is in Australia for six weeks and is "very excited" to see her family.
"I haven't made any plans. It's so hot I'm not used to it," she said.
Katie and her husband followed their daughter Jo Gilbey out to Australia in 1989.
"When I saw Helensvale, I said, 'this feels like home', and it always has done," Katie said.
Jo said her mother had made regular trips back to the UK to see her twin, the last in 2016.
"They have caught up regularly over the years as my family and I have travelled back to the UK often and many times with Mum in tow," she said.
"My husband and I emigrated to Australia in 1987 and, being an only child meant that my parents were able to follow.
"Mum and Pam have always stayed in touch with regular mailings.
"Clearly the brandy didn't do them any harm because here they are, all these years later."